I’ve been asked many times, "How do you keep your church DNA running across multiple campuses?”
With six campuses for North Coast Church in California, with each consisting of multiple venues, each with their multiple services times, multiple worship bands and multiple tech artists, all on one weekend - this is not always easy.
One way is to clone your campuses, like the McDonald’s franchise model, and apply that to your other campuses. This model has been really successful for churches, especially in certain areas of the country.
What we have found at North Coast is we want to give autonomy to our campuses, yet still retain a certain something that makes the campuses feel the same. More of a feel, so when you visit one of our campuses you say, “Hmmm, something feels the same as all the other campuses.”
You again could just create the same exact atmosphere (signs, colors, furniture, names of things, etc.), but for us at North Coast, that would take the autonomy and creativity out of the hands of each of our campus pastors.
Here are some thoughts on how we try and retain similar DNA across each of our campuses and venues at North Coast. People and leadership can make things feel the same, while still having the ability to carry DNA from location to location. For us, we start with giving our campuses guidelines or plumblines, to help leaders make decisions that are similar to how each campus would make a decision. There are plumblines or guiding principles for the whole church, then each ministry creates or adopts some specific ones for each area of ministry.
Here are a few of those plumblines for worship and production teams, across all campuses.
1. Working to never make the same mistake twice.
In production, you could set up everything right and still something will go wrong. Whether it’s human error or equipment failure, or a combination of both, its inevitable something will happen.
One of the things we try and work on is “never making the same mistake twice.” Of course, we would never want something to go wrong, but when it does, it’s important to review the issue (was it equipment failure, operator error or both) and then discuss how best to arrive at a solution (more training, by fixing the equipment, or rehearsing the transition again, etc.), after which having one move on.
So often, though, we don’t say anything, and the same exact mistake happens again during the next service. A different problem or mistake might happen that next service, but if the same one happens, then we didn’t learn and take the time to train to make it better. it’s not the number of mistakes, it’s the number of same mistakes happening, that shows a lot about my leadership.
Usually, we just forget to address it and it happens again, making us look like we don’t know what we are doing. For example, I used to track each missed cue, identifying why it happened (equipment or operator error) and who did it. For 20 weeks that was done (enough times where each operator served at least three times) and used it, not to reprimand anyone, but to help with training on systems and transitions with staff and volunteers.
2. Consistency over quality
We should strive for the best, but we also need to remember that consistency is more important than quality.
My pastor told me early on in production, “I would rather have a base hit every single week, then a homerun one week, single the next week and a strikeout the third week. The reason is your regular attendees will continue to come week in and week out, but it makes it harder for them to invite their friends who have never been to a service at your church, if they don’t know what the quality will be like. It’s like a restaurant – you eat there three times, and one time it’s amazing, but the other times it’s just OK. You might go back for a fourth time, but you would find that it would be really hard to recommend that restaurant to someone, because you would not be sure what they’ll get, and that’s a reflection of you.
Quality is very important, but sometimes we lose focus trying to make this weekend the best ever, and don’t think about if we can do this again with different people and systems, the next weekend and the next after that, and so on and so on.
Those are just a few examples of plumblines for our production teams. Having guiding principles or plumblines can help leaders make decisions and direct people in similar ways across all campuses or venues, which is what helps pass on your DNA across them all.